Wednesday, August 21, 2019

WINNERS: choruses, 2018-19


Correction (8/23/19): The winning ensemble in the youth choir division had been inadvertently omitted from Wednesday's original listing. That omission has been corrected.—DK

The American Prize National Nonprofit Competitions in the Performing Arts, David (Volosin) Katz, chief judge, is honored to announce the winners, runners-up, honorable mentions and citation recipient of The American Prize in Choral Performance, 2018-19, in all divisions. Congratulations!

Complete listings of finalists and semi-finalists in The American Prize competitions may be found elsewhere on this blog. Please use the chronological tool in the right-hand column to find specific results.

QUICKNOTES: Although The American Prize does not usually provide written evaluations to semi-finalists, some semi-finalist composers will receive in their certificate packets short comments, suggestions or overall impressions made during the judging. We hope they will prove valuable. All finalists receive written evaluations from a member of The American Prize judging panel.

Please make us aware of any misprints: theamericanprize@gmail.com


The American Prize in Choral Performance, professional division, 2018-19

The American Prize winner:
Constellation Men's Ensemble
Ryan Townsend Strand
Chicago IL   

Constellation Men's Ensemble
Constellation Men’s Ensemble (CME) is a Chicago-based professional chamber choir dedicated to exceptional music making with the purpose of spreading passion and appreciation for men’s choral music through community engagement, diverse programming, and unique concert experiences.

Recent projects include NOX:CAELO, through which Constellation sought to explore and meditate upon the end-of-day Compline tradition; Cheers, a program of drinking songs from around the world set in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago’s own Growling Rabbit bar; and MILLENNIALS, a joint concert with fellow Chicago-based ensemble La Caccina performing to sold-out audiences at Avondale’s PROP THTR. This concert drew from contemporary composers Ted Hearne, David Lang, and Stacy Garrop in an effort to sonically paint the American Millennial experience by giving voice to their ideals, their blemishes, and their stories.

To end their 2017-2018 season, Constellation produced the second installment in their new music series, NOVA: New. Original. Vocal. Art. This year, CME commissioned four composers to create music around the notion of “Hope in Our Time," in a program that spanned futility through constancy. Composers featured included Nicholas Cline, Sean Ellis Hussey, David Lang, and Augusta Read Thomas.

Constellation Men’s Ensemble is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Chicago, IL.
www.constellationensemble.org


2nd Place:
San Diego Pro Art Voices
Patrick Walders, Founding Artistic Director
San Diego CA

San Diego Pro Art Voices
The San Diego Pro Arte Voices is a non-profit 501c3 arts organization dedicated to presenting innovative performances as an individual professional chamber choir and as a versatile collaborative project-based partner with various art organizations and forces. Established in 2013, they present traditional and non-traditional events in diverse venues bringing the arts and the artistic process to as many people as possible. They commission and solicit new works on a regular basis and are passionate about bringing new music of all shapes and sizes to all audiences. Their Disarm Hate Project has generated over ten original compositions and premiere performances/recordings, with more in the works and more submissions welcome. Their largest and most exciting single project to-date is titled, “L.O.S.T.” featuring a forty-five-minute work by Dr. Jason Rosenberg who arranged the Tallis Lamentations of Jeremiah and wrote original music to be interpolated. The premiere recording will be released in 2019. The SDPAVs are dedicated to providing performing opportunities and career options for students and professionals in the greater San Diego, California area and surrounding region. The organization is proud to facilitate the annual San Diego Summer Conducting Workshop and San Diego Summer Choral Festival where the chamber choir serves as Choir-in-Residence.  www.sdproartevoices.org


3rd Place & Special Judges' Citation: "Delightful Performance of 'Four Saints in Three Acts'"
Vocal Essence Ensemble Singers
Philip Brunelle
Minneapolis MN       

Vocal Essence Ensemble Singers
Founded in 1991, the VocalEssence Ensemble Singers are acclaimed for their “superbly blended sound” (Birmingham Post, UK) and “exemplary technique” (Minneapolis Star Tribune). Lauded by the Times of London as “polished, bright and brilliantly balanced,” this 32-voice professional chorus is directed by VocalEssence Artistic Director and Founder Philip Brunelle and Associate Conductor G. Phillip Shoultz, III.

Striving to create perfection in their sound, the Ensemble Singers engage audiences with their vivid personality and expressive singing. They are at ease with works dating from the Baroque era to the modern day, approaching each musical endeavor with originality and freshness. Dominick Argento, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Aaron Jay Kernis, Libby Larsen, Stephen Paulus and Alvin Singleton are among the many composers who have written world premieres expressly for their voices. The Ensemble Singers have toured worldwide including tours to the UK, South Korea, and China, and will tour to Mexico in 2018.


The American Prize in Choral Performance, college/university division, 2018-19

The American Prize co-winners:
NOTUS
Dominick DiOrio
Bloomington IN    

and
Westminster Kantorei
Westminster Choir College
Amanda Quist
Princeton NJ

NOTUS
A 30-student ensemble from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, NOTUS is one of the country’s most unique collegiate vocal ensembles, with a singular commitment to championing living composers through the commissioning, programming, and recording of new works. Founded in 1980 and now led by its fourth director, conductor-composer Dominick DiOrio, NOTUS has performed across the nation, from regional and national ACDA conferences to Carnegie Hall. Over the course of its history, NOTUS has delivered premiere or second performances of more than 150 new works in the choral repertoire. In September of 2018, NOTUS released their first commercial album on the Innova label, NOTUS: Of Radiance and Refraction, which includes five world premiere recordings by IU faculty composers. NOTUS is honored to be one of only 24 choirs in the world invited to perform at the 12th World Symposium on Choral Music -- the "Olympics" of choral music -- in Auckland, New Zealand in July 2020.


Westminster Kantorei
Composed of students at Westminster Choir College, WESTMINSTER KANTOREI is an award-winning chamber choir specializing in early and contemporary music. The ensemble performs regularly with Juilliard415, and several of America’s leading specialists in early music.

The ensemble’s 2017 – 2018 season includes the release of its first solo recording, Lumina, hailed by infodad.com as a recording “sung with great beauty of sound and excellent articulation ... a CD to cherish” and by Morten Lauridsen as “superb, a splendid recording, highly recommended.” In addition to concerts in Princeton, the ensemble performed at the American Choral Directors Association’s Eastern Division Conference in Pittsburgh this March, and it was selected to premiere the Raymond Brock Memorial Commission. Recent seasons have included performances at the 2017 Boston Early Music Festival, the American Handel Festival, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, with the Westminster Choir and the New York Philharmonic, conducted by Kurt Masur. Additionally, Kantorei was invited to perform for the Festival en L’Île in Paris, and Windsor Castle in England, in 2016.

Westminster Kantorei has also premiered works by contemporary composers, including Christian Carey, Daniel Elder, Doug Helvering, Blake Hensen, and the internationally acclaimed Swedish composer Sven-David Sandström. https://www.rider.edu/wcc/academics/choirs/westminster-kantorei


2nd Place:
William Jewell College Concert Choir
Anthony J  Maglione
Liberty MO   

William Jewell College Concert Choir
The William Jewell College Concert Choir, conducted by Anthony J. Maglione, is an auditioned 40-voice undergraduate ensemble composed of the college’s best choral singers regardless of major. In addition to several Kansas City area performances each semester, the choir records regularly and, since 1985, has travelled triennially to England and Scotland for a 14-day concert tour. Recent highlights include appearances with the King’s Singers, the Canadian Brass, the American Spiritual Ensemble, as well as performances at Missouri Music Educators Association’s In-Service Workshop/Conference and the Southwestern Division ACDA conference. Recordings are available on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, and other major streaming services. More information can be found at www.jewell.edu/music.  Also, follow us on Facebook, SoundCloud, Instagram, and Twitter (@JewellChoir).


3rd Place:
The College of Wooster Chorus
Lisa Wong
Wooster OH  

The College of Wooster Chorus
Founded in 1964, The College of Wooster Chorus is comprised of undergraduate students representing all academic areas within The College of Wooster’s liberal arts program.  Located in Wooster, Ohio, approximately 55 miles south of Cleveland, Wooster is considered America’s premier college for mentored undergraduate research, and has been called the “best-kept secret in higher education.” (Colleges That Change Lives) The chorus collaborates annually with The Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra Chorus.  Enthusiastic about the performance of new music, Wooster has recently premiered works by several American composers including Eric Whitacre and Jake Runestad.  The Chorus has performed at the Central Division conference of the American Choral Directors Association, and also at the state conference (2014, 2016, and 2018) of the Ohio Music Education Association.


The American Prize in Choral Performance, community chorus division, 2018-19

The American Prize winner:
Oregon Repertory Singers
Ethan Sperry
Portland OR      

Oregon Repertory Singers
Oregon Repertory Singers is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon, presenting world-class choral music. Founded in 1974, the organization nurtures knowledge and appreciation of choral music through its professional-caliber adult choir and education-based youth choir program. The Oregon Repertory Singers adult choir has been called Portland’s “finest large choir.” (Willamette Week, 2016), offering audiences in the Portland metro area unmatched performances of a wide variety of repertoire both rare and recognizable, encompassing a multitude of eras, languages, and musical styles. Under the direction of Dr. Ethan Sperry, the choir frequently presents regional premieres, works by living and local composers, and infrequently performed masterworks. The volunteer-choir includes members of varied ages, experiences, and careers, committed to sharing some of the most influential and beautiful choral music at the highest artistic level. http://www.orsingers.org/



2nd Place:
Choral Chameleon Chorus
Vince Peterson, artistic director
Brooklyn NY  

Choral Chameleon
New-York’s Choral Chameleon, founded in 2008, is known for championing new music for voices within the context of eclectic mixed-genre thematic programs, combining the familiar with the unfamiliar and which are often presented with non-traditional staging. Founded by Artistic Director Vince Peterson, winner of Chorus America’s Louis Botto Award for Innovative Action and Entrepreneurial zeal, the Company encompasses: a professional chamber ensemble, a volunteer chorus of 30-40 and an annual week-long Summer Institute for 15 emerging composers and conductors hosted in Brooklyn.  Singers from the company also appear in off-Broadway productions and have appeared as guest artists with a diverse range of collaborators. The choir was Group in Residence at National Sawdust in 2017-2018. The culture of the organization marries informality, loving support and joyful curiosity with the expectation of solidly technical musicianship, constant learning and openness towards the unexpected. 


3rd Place:
Ensemble Companio
Erik Peregrine
Niskayuna NY     

Ensemble Companio
Ensemble Companio’s mission is to build bridges between people through authentic, inspiring performances of the finest choral music. Founded in 2011 by director emeritus Joseph Gregorio, Ensemble Companio is an award-winning volunteer chamber choir comprised of members who hail from across the Eastern seaboard and perform together throughout the Eastern United States. Ensemble Companio takes its name from a Latin form of “companion”, the historical meaning of which is “one with whom one shares bread.” The name reflects the musicians’ belief that sharing in choral music, like the sharing of food, is an essential, nourishing, and healing experience. www.ensemblecompanio.org


Finalist Honorable Mention:
SONUS
Tyler Evick
Nashville TN 
Timbre Cierpke conductor 

SONUS
SONUS is a modern a cappella choir, born from the desire to create beautiful music with excellence and passion, emphasizing modern and sacred music. They are dedicated to a collective leadership, working together to create a transcendent experience for the listener and the performer.  Every member has input in the shaping of the music, creating a truly beautiful and unified sound.

Since its founding in 2014, SONUS has created a unique listening experience, singing in an open semi-circle with the conductor singing with them in their midst. This allows an exceptionally emotional and dynamic performance, as the separation is removed between choir and conductor.  Their specialization of straight-tone singing creates yet another level of musical synergy, with no vibrato to disrupt the overtones created by pure pitches, so the full color of sound can be heard and felt, making SONUS a rich and deeply moving musical experience.  www.sonuschoir.com


Finalist Honorable Mention: 
Plymouth Choir 
Tom Trenney
Lincoln NE 

Plymouth Choir
The Plymouth Choir
Tom Trenney, Minister of Music; Ariel Merivil Associate Minister of Music
The Plymouth Choir sings weekly for worship at First-Plymouth Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The choir’s rich history has included more than a dozen recordings, five international tours, and performances under legendary conductors including Robert Shaw, Randall Thompson, David Willcocks, John Rutter, Alice Parker, Anton Armstrong and Aaron Copland.  But who are the people of the Plymouth Choir?  We are scientists, teachers, policemen, baristas, doctors, waiters, students, politicians, executives, unemployed, nannies, farmers, retirees...  We are each unique, but we all find sanctuary in our time together when we are invited to breathe more deeply, listen more intently, express more intentionally, and pray more fervently.  In choir, we come in touch with the treasures of history and poetry and scripture.  We seek harmony.  We experience unity.   We have been called together to sing our faith, and we pray that God may give us faith to sing always! 


Honorable Mention: 
The Helios Ensemble
Benjamin J  Hansen
Tucson AZ   

The Helios Ensemble
The Helios Ensemble is an auditioned mixed choral ensemble based in Tucson, Arizona, founded in 2014 and directed by Benjamin J. Hansen, DMA candidate at the University of Arizona.  The mission of The Helios Ensemble is to create great sound through creative group vocal pedagogy, using the drama inherent in the music to improve blend and color, empowering choristers to sing difficult choral music.  Helios as performed such works as Bach's Lobet den Herrn, Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass, Beethoven's Mass in C, Poulenc's Mass in G, Duruflé's Requiem, and Vaughan Williams' Three Shakespeare Songs.  Helios looks forward to performing Bach's B minor Mass and Brahms' Requiem for the 2018-2019 season.  



The American Prize in Choral Performance, high school division, 2018-19

The American Prize winner:
Graham-Kapowsin HS Concert Chorale
Jason Saunders
Graham WA   

Graham-Kapowsin HS Concert Chorale
The Graham-Kapowsin High School Concert Chorale is an auditioned mixed ensemble, composed of 10th–12th grade students with a dedication to performing outstanding choral repertoire. The Concert Chorale is the premiere choir at Graham-Kapowsin, and is one of six vocal ensembles in a vibrant music department that serves over 500 students and employs five music teachers. Many students in the choir also play in an instrumental ensemble. The Concert Chorale has performed at a variety of festivals and competitions, including the Anaheim and Seattle Heritage Festivals, where they garnered top awards. The choir appeared at the 2018 Washington Music Educators Association (WMEA) Conference in February, and at the 2018 American Choral Directors Association Northwest Division Conference in March. They have also been invited to perform at the 2019 Northwest NAfME conference in Portland. Graham-Kapowsin is one of three comprehensive high schools in the Bethel School District, located Graham, Washington.


2nd Place (there was a tie):
Brockton HS Concert Choir
Matthew Cunningham
Brockton MA   

Brockton HS Concert Choir
Sixty-Five singers make up the Brockton High School Concert Choir, which performs in five major concerts each year. The choir has performed at the 2016 ACDA Eastern Division Conference and the 2015 NAfME Eastern Division Conference. For the past 25 years, the BHS Concert Choir has had a collaboration with the Handel and Haydn Society of Boston.The choir has consistently received superior ratings at state and national festivals, and has performed in the MICCA Gold Medal Showcase four times. Each year, numerous students from the ensemble are selected to participate in the SEMMEA District, MMEA All State, ACDA Eastern, and ACDA National Honor Choirs. The BHS Concert Choir has had the privilege of singing for such dignitaries as the Prime Minister of Cape Verde and U.S. Senator Edward Markey, among others. In June 2014, the choir sang in concert with the classic rock band, Foreigner.


2nd Place (there was a tie):
Arvada West HS Vocal Showcase
Chris Maunu
Arvada CO 

Arvada West HS Vocal Showcase
Since Chris Maunu took over Arvada West choirs in 2006, the department has grown from 120 to over 340 students and has become one of the nation’s premier choral programs. Arvada West’s mixed chorus, Vocal Showcase, performed at the 2017 National ACDA Conference in Minneapolis and were winners of the Youth Division of the 2017-2018 American Prize in Choral Performance. Choirs from Arvada West have performed at eight Colorado CMEA conferences since 2009. The ensembles consistently receive superior ratings and 1st place finishes at festivals and contests. AWHS choirs have performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Orchestra Hall in Chicago and Minneapolis, and High Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. Mr. Maunu was 1 of 10 national finalists for the Music Educator Award at the 60th GRAMMY Awards this last January. Away from AWHS, he is co-founder/director of the new 16-voice professional choir, Anima Chamber Ensemble and serves as the High School Repertoire and Resources Chair for Colorado ACDA.


3rd Place:
Liberty High School Chamber Choir
Rika R  Heruth
Liberty MO      

Liberty High School Chamber Choir
The Liberty High School Chamber Choir is the top auditioned choir in the Liberty High
School Program. The LHS Chamber Choir meets once per week on Monday evenings for 90 minutes and is selected from students in our auditioned Concert Choir class. This ensemble performs exceptionally varying literature ranging from the Renaissance to contemporary jazz arrangements. Under the direction of Dr. Rika R. Heruth, the ensemble has performed at the Missouri Music Educators Association Conference three times. Additionally, they have performed at the Southwest American Choral Directors Association Conference, and have collaborated with regional colleges, universities, and conservatories on joint concerts, festivals, and clinics. This ensemble has received consistent top ratings at all festivals since its inception.


The American Prize in Choral Performance, youth choir division, 2018-19

The American Prize winner: 
New World Singers
of the Columbus Children's Choir
Jeanne M  Wohlgamuth
Columbus OH

New World Singers
Praised as “rare, radiant, and beautiful” by composer Nick Page, the New World Singers of Columbus Children’s Choir are no strangers to the public arena. The students who comprise the New World Singers possess the technique and artistry to perform with world-class ensembles such as the Columbus Symphony. Conducted by Artistic Director Jeanne Wohlgamuth, the New World Singers have had the honor of performing in prestigious national venues, including an inspired collaboration with the Columbus Symphony Youth Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in 2018. On the international stage, they have performed in Germany, Russia, Italy, France, Canada, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, and Spain. In 2017, they traveled to Austria to perform with the Vienna Boys’ Choir. As Columbus Children Choir celebrates its 23rd season, the New World Singers continue to earn a reputation as one of the country’s finest rising ensembles. www.columbuschildrenschoir.org           


Finalist Honorable Mention: 
Fifth Avenue Falcons
Shawn M  Small
Lebanon PA    

Fifth Avenue Falcons
Mr. Shawn M. Small created The Fifth Avenue Falcons 15 years ago as an auditioned component of the 141 member South Lebanon Elementary Chorus in Lebanon, PA.  It started as 20 and has grown to 60 auditioned 4th & 5th grade students.  The Falcons prepare varied repertoire for annual winter and spring concerts as well as performances at special district and community events.  They have consistently performed in the community at events such as Law Day Ceremonies, Veteran’s Day Celebrations, and National Anthem performances.  The ensemble also performed back-up vocals on an album recorded by Saul Simon MacWilliams with the assistance of Billy Libby (guitarist with Ingrid Michaelson).  For the 2017-2018 year, the group was named as a “finalist” in The American Prize for Choral Performance Youth/High School Division, a national recording competition.
 


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Congratulations!

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